Cruise ships diverted from Falmouth due to strong winds

Cruise ships diverted from Falmouth due to strong winds

Observer staff reporter

Friday, January 17, 2020

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FALMOUTH, Trelawny — The strong, persistent north-easterly wind currently being experienced in Falmouth, has, since the start of the year, resulted in the diversion of three cruise ships from the historic port.

The three vessels would have transported 7,000 passengers to the island's shores.

According to Noel Hylton, the Port Authority of Jamaica's port manager for Falmouth, the port averages about five diversions annually due to climatic conditions.

“During this time of the year, when we have regular cold fronts or change in the weather pattern, we will have some diversion... average for Falmouth would be about five per season,” Hylton told the Jamaica Observer during a telephone interview yesterday.

He was, however, unable to detail the extent of the impact the diversion of the three vessels have had on the local economy.

But he was quick to point out that, at the end of the day, there is little or no decline in the number of cruise arrivals as the port has also unexpectedly welcomed cruise passengers from vessels that were diverted from other ports also as a result of inclement weather.

“I can't tell you the economic impact [from the diversions]. But what I can tell you is, at the end of the day, significantly, it does not impact numbers if you look at the overall picture. In 2017, when we had the hurricanes (Irma and Maria), our numbers in Falmouth went up more than 150,000 passengers,” he explained.

“Year by year, you have situations where another destination may face similar weather and we have diversion to Jamaica. So we benefit sometimes, sometimes we don't benefit — it is a seasonal thing,” he said.

Walford Williams, a ground transport operator, noted that he is not overly worked up over the diversion of vessels, as there is nothing that he or any of his colleagues can do to alter the weather.

Hylton revealed that the north-easterly wind mostly affects the ports of Falmouth and Ocho Rios in St Ann.

“It has to be really bad to affect Montego Bay,” he said.

“Falmouth and Ocho Rios are the two ports that get affected by the north-easterly wind, which comes across and makes it very difficult for the vessels to come ashore. Sometimes they come ashore, but because of how the swells are high, you can't put out the gangway because it becomes too difficult for the passengers to come ashore,” Hylton said, adding that not much can be done to reverse the impact of the winds on cruise diversions.

Swells, in the context of an ocean, sea or lake, are a series of mechanical waves that propagate along the interface between water and air, and thus are often referred to as surface gravity waves.

The Falmouth port welcomed just over 560,000 cruise passengers last year. Since the start of the year, fisherfolk in and around Falmouth have also been negatively impacted by the persistent north-easterly wind.

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